The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12. It is the Steelers’ latest home game after a road game in Week 11, and hopefully their eleventh win of the 2020 regular season.
When looking at the matchup between AFC North foes, there are players who can be viewed as ‘X-Factors’.
What is an ‘X-Factor’?
I would describe an ‘X-Factor’ as a player who can truly alter the outcome of the game, single-handedly. Not just a plug and play type player, but a player who always has to be accounted for, no matter what.
As a clear-cut example of what an ‘X-Factor’ player would look like, think Troy Polamalu. Polamalu’s skill set made him a force to be reckoned with on every play. So, who are the ‘X-Factors’ for the Steelers Week 12 game vs. Baltimore?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Cam Heyward
Why: To me, this was a simple one. With Stephon Tuitt being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, and missing the Week 12 game, it will be up to Heyward to be the dominant force fans have known and loved.
For some reason, it seems Heyward actually plays better when Tuitt is out of the lineup. This isn’t to suggest the defense is better without Tuitt, but Heyward seems to elevate his game when Tuitt isn’t in the lineup.
Let’s put it this way, in Week 12, Steelers fans around the globe would love to see some of the following when Robert Griffin III drops back to pass at Heinz Field Wednesday...
Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt split a sack on this fourth-and-8 play for a loss of 17-yards with 1:45 remaining in the game. Incredible bull rush by Heyward on Connor Williams. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/KZaQ0AEgMp— BlitzburghVideos (@BlitzVideos) November 15, 2020
That Cam Heyward sack pic.twitter.com/VBJS6gxFG3— Benstonium (@Benstonium) August 26, 2019
Sacks are great, but when Heyward is on, he is dominant in the run game too. For these reasons, and so many more, Heyward is my X-Factor for this week.
X-Factor: Eric Ebron
Why: The reason to choose Eric Ebron in this case is multifaceted. First, there is the possibility of the Ravens defense being weak across the middle due to limited personal because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Baltimore. If so, Ebron could possibly have the best chance to exploit a weakness when it comes to the Ravens pass defense.
Ben Roethlisberger's 8-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Eric Ebron, who leaps over Saivion Smith to go in for the score. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/I3q8KdaENt— BlitzburghVideos (@BlitzVideos) November 15, 2020
In addition to running receiver-like routes, what makes Eric Ebron such an asset is his catch radium, as demonstrated on this touchdown reception. #Steelers #SteelersNation #HereWeGo #SteelersFilm— Black and Gold Nation (@B_GNation1) September 28, 2020
️ -> @steelers pic.twitter.com/vUvpcZktax
Additionally, Eric Ebron is hungry. He’s hungry for a win and he’s angry at the situation which postponed the Steelers Week 13 game by six days. Between having a favorable matchup, having a chip on his shoulder, and developing a better relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger week after week, Ebron could possibly have a game that is Steelers tight end hasn’t seen in a long time.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 12 game in Pittsburgh? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!